A Problem of Attrition: The Impact of a Complainant's Mental Health on the Investigation and Prosecution of a Rape Allegation
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This thesis addresses the relevance and impact of a complainant’s mental health on the investigation and prosecution of a rape allegation. There is evidence to suggest that an allegation made by a complainant with a mental health condition is more likely to drop out of the criminal justice process than one without a mental health condition.1 In light of this occurrence, the thesis considers the extent to which there is a connection between the presence of a mental health issue and the likelihood of the allegation being withdrawn – a decision which is made by either by the police, the Crown Prosecution Service or the complainant herself – or discontinued. The thesis examines the relevance and impact of a mental health condition as it arises in key investigative and prosecutorial stages: the initial reporting of the allegation, the complainant’s interview with the police, the process of pre-trial disclosure and the deployment of material relating to the complainant’s mental health at trial. It considers how mental health can influence the assessment of the complainant’s credibility, the quality of the account of the offence, and ability to participate in the judicial process. The thesis finds that mental health is influential in its connection to the attrition of rape cases, with potential ramifications for the complainant, the allegation, and attrition both within and across the key procedural stages. Ultimately, the influence of mental health on the case is cumulative.
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